KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- One pitch after another, the Royals fouled back seemingly everything Scott Baker threw. Good pitches, bad pitches, pitches he was trying to let them hit: Foul!
When it mattered most, Baker got the outs and the win.
Justin Morneau homered for the third straight game and Baker labored through five tough innings, lifting the Minnesota Twins to a 2-1 victory over hapless Kansas City on Tuesday night.
Not quite shaky, not quite great, Baker (6-6) needed 111 pitches to get through his five innings, coming up with the right one each time to get the Royals out after all those foul balls.
"Sometimes, you're wanting them to put it play, you're just throwing it over the plate," Baker said. "I was wanting them to put it in play and they weren't doing it, so you keep throwing it until they do. Fortunately, it worked out."
Baker's laborious win wouldn't have been possible without Morneau and another defensive miscue by the Royals.
Morneau provided what little offense the Twins could muster against Brian Bannister (5-6), splashing a solo homer into the fountains in right-center in the fourth inning to tie the game at 1-all. The 2006 AL MVP hit a three-run homer against St. Louis on Sunday and had a two-run shot to open the Kansas City series.
The Twins scored the go-ahead run in the sixth, when the Royals turned what should have been a double play into an unearned run and another disheartening loss for Bannister.
"It was a little bit of an insult to it (Bannister's effort)," Royals manager Trey Hillman said.
Baker fought through a 28-pitch first inning, giving up a run on Mike Jacobs' run-scoring flare single to center. The right-hander worked out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning, getting Mitch Maier on a weak pop up and striking out Tony Pena Jr.
The inning took its toll, though.
Baker was hit on the backside by Miguel Olivo's infield single to load the bases and needed 11 pitches -- after starting 0-2 -- to strike out Pena, a .103 hitter. He made it through the fifth inning despite a 15-pitch at-bat by Willie Bloomquist, but didn't come out for the sixth, worn out after all those foul balls. Baker gave up a run and five hits.
"He said in the dugout: 'I was making just a bad enough pitch for them to foul it off or just a good enough pitch not to make them out.' Figure that one out," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He got through them and got a win."
Minnesota's bullpen took it from there.
Bobby Keppel pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings, getting help from shortstop Brendan Harris, who saved a run in the sixth with a diving stop up the middle with two on. Jose Mijares and Matt Guerrier bridged the gap and Joe Nathan worked a perfect ninth for his 15th straight save and 20th in 22 chances.
"The bullpen was great," Baker said. "They deserve the win just as much as I do."
So did Bannister.
The right-hander was sharp after a shaky outing against Houston last week, allowing Morneau's 19th homer in the fourth and not much else.
As usual, his teammates let him down. Normally, it's the offense. This time, the defense let him down, too.
After giving up Joe Mauer's squib single just inside third base in the sixth inning, Bannister induced Morneau into what should have been a double play ball. Instead, Jacobs' throw from first sailed into left for Kansas City's 57th error of the season. Michael Cuddyer followed with a one-out sacrifice fly that put the Twins up 2-1.
Bannister gave up six hits, two runs -- one earned -- with six strikeouts in seven innings.
Normally, that's good enough to win anywhere. Just not in Kansas City. The Royals are among the AL's worst in hitting, runs, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. They've been particularly inept with Bannister on the mound, scoring 10 runs in his six losses.
"Bannister was great. He missed location on the home run, but overall he was outstanding," Hillman said. "Very efficient, for the most part, especially going through the meat of the lineup."
Royals RF Jose Guillen didn't start for the second straight game because of a stiff left side. He pinch-hit in the sixth and stayed in the game. He was 0 for 2. ... Mauer was 1 for 4 and is 10 for 45 the past 12 games with his average dropping from .429 to .383.